Everyone is talking about Skittles.com bold move. However, many are focusing on what I believe to be of lesser importance, the execution — the “widget” that sits in the upper left-hand corner of the browser with links that point to places where Skittles has a presence: Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, etc.
While the way this was done may appear faddish, the fact that it was done denotes a trend. For a moment, let’s look past the execution to the philosophy that drove it and focus our attention on what is of prime importance.
I see four factors:
First, Skittles bucked conventional wisdom about what corporate brand sites should be, especially those of packaged goods companies. Compare, for example, Skittles to Jelly Belly and Reeses.
Second, this experiment pays homage to the importance social media has on building a brand’s reputation. Mashable’s Stan Schroeder said it best: “We won’t see all corporations do a complete social media makeover [à la Skittles] anytime soon, but we will see them give more and more importance to the various social channels out there.”
Third, Mars recognizes that the strength of a brand relates to how much conversation there is about it. And, right now, there’s a lot being said about Skittles. (If you think about it, Skittles “rainbow” analogy plays well in this respect. Social media is, after all, a panoply of voices.)
Fourth, it is also a recognition that what the consumer has to say is at least as important as what the brand has to say. It is an acknowledgment that the brand and its consumers can and should partner in co-creating brand reputation and buzz.
Whether this experiment will prove to be a win for Skittles remains to be seen. What it is is a win for the importance of social media and the impact it is having on both commerce and culture. To create a Web property of any sort without at least considering the incorporation of some element of community is fatuous, even haughty and a blatant disavowal of the value such community provides.
Today is a day for celebration. Out with conventional wisdom on what a corporate brand Web site should be… out with Web 1.0 ways of thinking… in with co-creation, collaboration and community. I believe what Skittles has really done is set a “memorial stone” in place, one that recognizes the ascendancy of social media to a new level of importance. (Is it safe to assert that social media is now “mainstream?”)
So, if you feel similarly, embrace the rainbow and celebrate with a big bag of Skittles!